Origin of heavy rare earth mineralization in South China

Cheng Xu, Jindrich Kynicky, Martin Smith, Antonin Kopriva, Martin Brtnicky, Tomas Urubek, Yueheng Yang, Zheng Zhao, Chen He, Wenlei Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Heavy rare earth elements (HREE) are dominantly mined from the weathering crusts of granites in South China. Although weathering processes occur globally, no economic HREE resources of this type have yet been found outside China. Here, we report the occurrence of unidentified REE minerals in the granites from South Chinese deposits. They contain high levels of both HREE and light REE, but are strongly depleted in Ce, implying high oxidation state. These REE minerals show higher initial Nd isotope ratio than primary REE-rich minerals (eNd(t)=0.9±0.8 versus -11.5±0.5). The mineralized weathering crusts inherited REE signature of the granites, but show more Ce depletion and more overall concentration of the REE. We propose, therefore, that highly oxidized, REE-rich fluids, derived from external, isotopically depleted sources, metasomatized the granites, which resulted in Ce depletion as Ce4+ and enrichment of the remaining REE, especially the HREE, contributing to formation of a globally important REE resource.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2017

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